(WISH) - In the summer of 2006, famed billionaire and investing guru Warren Buffett announced his intention to give away most of his wealth . Since then, he’s given billions of dollars worth of stock in his company Berkshire Hathaway to charities.
And he’s inspired dozens of others among America’s wealthiest to pledge to do the same.
With a net worth of $39 billion, he’s still the second-wealthiest person in the U.S. and the third-wealthiest in the world, according to Forbes magazine , but his fortune tumbled 13 percent since 2010. But more than half of that $6 billion tumble came in the form of donations. Buffett gave away $3.27 billion since the 2010 rankings, Forbes said.
Buffett, 81, chalks much of his fortune up to good fortune. In his pledge letter at The Giving Pledge website , launched by Buffett and Bill and Melinda Gates to encourage rich Americans to pledge at least half of their wealth to charity, he says he “won what I call the ovarian lottery.”
He says in his pledge letter that because of his good fortune, he can donate more than 99 percent of his wealth without affecting his family’s lifestyle. And that’s exactly what he plans to do. His intent is to put his money toward “current needs,” he says in the letter.
“Were we to use more than 1 percent of my claim checks on ourselves,” he says of he and his family, “neither our happiness nor our well-being would be enhanced. In contrast, the remaining 99 percent can have a huge effect on the health and welfare of others.”
Since that initial pledge, Buffett has donated more than $11 billion in Berkshire shares, according to a Reuters analysis of SEC filings .
And more than 100 other wealthy Americans have followed his lead, uploading letters at The Giving Pledge website, pledging to give away at least half of their wealth to charity. The pledges are moral commitments to give, not legal contracts, but the organization says it aims to create a conversation and an atmosphere that will draw more people into philanthropy .
Among those who have made pledges are Bill and Melinda Gates, whose charitable foundation that works to improve health and educational opportunities for people all over the world has been the beneficiary of billions of dollars donated by Buffett. The Microsoft founder and his wife have put the majority of their assets into the foundation.
“We feel very lucky to have the chance to work together in giving back the resources we are stewards of. By joining the Giving Pledge effort,” the two say in their pledge letter, “we’re certain our giving will be more effective because of the time we will spend with this group.”
Other notable names on the list of pledges include New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg , famed designer Diane Von Furstenberg , filmmaker George Lucas , energy executive and innovator T. Boone Pickens , media mogul Ted Turner and Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg .